Open Arms Free Clinic Executive Director Sara Nichols (center) cuts the ceremonial dental floss ribbon at the Open Arms Dental Clinic in Elkhorn on Aug. 19. It’ll serve Walworth County residents. (Dave Dresdow photo)

It will serve uninsured Walworth County residents

Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc. cut the ceremonial dental floss ribbon last week to unveil its newest expansion, the Open Arms Dental Clinic in Elkhorn.

After a full year of securing private community support, it was the $150,000 grant award in late 2019 from Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation that set the stage for an exciting gala event involving 700 guests to witness a tipping point of the community coming together to make this new clinic available for our neighbors in need. The Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation ribbon cutting presentation was held Aug. 19 in front of the building, with small group tours of the clinic afterwards.

“Our goal is for patients to have the same quality care with dignity and respect as we would wish for our own family,” said Sara Nichols, Executive Director of Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc. “For the last eight years, our patients have qualified for Open Arms free services as they live in a low-income household, have no health insurance, and live or work in Walworth County.”


Phase one for the Open Arms dental program is to catch up with the current patients delayed care due to the COVID shutdown, as well as meeting the emergent dental concerns for children and adults with special needs, according to Nichols. Pediatricians and schools are the primary referral source, and the referral forms are available on the Open Arms website,

In 2021, Nichols said Open Arms hopes to expand even more to include adults with Medicaid, seniors and veterans who are low-income. This expansion will take support from dental schools, volunteers and community financial support.

“If you have ever had a toothache, you know how your work, school and general functioning stops until you can get it fixed. And now, for the 30,000 people who have been denied access to services in the past, they now have a place to go at Open Arms Dental Clinic,” she stated.

Elizabeth Aldred, Director of Walworth County Health and Human Services echoed the statement.

“… Open Arms Free Clinic has become a vital part of our Walworth County community. For many years they have partnered with the Public Health department to become an access point for flu immunizations within the community. Further, they have provided leadership to a community coalition to address the shortage of dental services in our community,” Aldred said.


United Way of Walworth County Executive Director Tammy Dunn said Walworth County is fortunate to have the Open Arms Free Clinic.

“Our Board of Directors and Community Impact Committee can attest to the significant service they provide ensuring everyone has access to quality medical, dental and vision care…,” Dunn said.

Dunn shared that she recently received a phone call from a desperate man who had an abscessed tooth and no means to pay for care, fearing he might lose his job because the pain was overwhelming.

“How wonderful to know I could give him the Open Arms phone number and he would receive exceptional treatment, with compassion. Open Arms is the only provider of these health services for our uninsured, low income and underserved residents,” Dunn said.


The tours held Aug. 19 highlighted the following at the dental clinic: the panoramic x-ray machine, which was purchased with funds raised at the 2018 Gala; two hygiene chairs, which will allow time for sanitizing and drying between patients; a universal dental chair for right and left handed dentists; a wheel chair base to allow for patients to receive care while in their wheelchair; the children’s dental room, which features art work donated by Cindy Meschler, Open Arms first dental assistant.

Open Arms is at 205 E. Commerce Ct., Elkhorn. For more information call 262-379-1401 or visit

For the rest of the story and more photos from the ribbon cutting and tours, pick up a copy of Southern Lakes Newspapers’ publications.


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